Meet Joe Magnanelli, the executive chef of the California-inspired Italian restaurant, Cucina Enoteca.

Chef Joe Magnanelli of Cucina Enoteca

In an interview with EthicalFoods.com, Chef Magnanelli talks about how climate change has impacted his restaurant and his reasons for championing sustainable agriculture by choosing to source his ingredients locally.

Why source sustainable food from local suppliers?

It’s something we whole-heartedly believe in—my parents are small business owners so I’ve always been privy to supporting local whenever I can. Plus, I like to have relationships with the growers and handpick the food that comes in to my restaurant. It also doesn’t hurt to reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible.

Has your restaurant been affected by the drought, ocean acidification, or any other changes in climate?

The drought has affected the feed for our cows on a local level. In fact, just last week we were notified by one of our main suppliers that due to the drought they were being forced to raise their prices, which is something they haven’t done in years—if ever. Unfortunately it’s possible that will reflect on potential price changes for us as well.

Are there any challenges that you’ve encountered in trying to find local suppliers of sustainably cultivated food?

For us it’s actually the opposite. We are so fortunate to have so many local sources for sustainable food. Everyday we have more and more local farms approaching us with really quality product. San Diego is amazing in that way, it’s something that chefs across the country dream about having access to.

If you could change or accomplish one thing in 2013 that would make local, sustainable food more accessible, what would that be?

I would stop the government subsidies to large farms. If we could do that, it would force people to buy local and make conscious decisions and in turn lower the prices for local and organic products.

Any other thoughts on how climate change will affect agriculture and the restaurant industry?

We have definitely seen some erratic seasons. For example last summer was super hot and long, lasting well into November. Fig season for us was super long. The problem with the climate change is that we can’t as easily predict what produce will be available when, with such drastic changes.


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